Human beings encounter many kinds of fear.
By Msgr. John Wynand Katende
In the scriptures God repeatedly tells us to fear nothing and no one except for him. “Do not be afraid” was also a phrase frequently used assuring his disciples of victory over evil (John 14:27).
Human beings encounter many kinds of fear. The list includes sickness, poverty, ignorance, persecutions and terrorists, among others.
Today, there is a deeper kind of fear or anguish: losing our personal and social identity. It is closely associated with factors like globalization, modernity and dictatorship of the minority elite. Both the media houses and social media are impacting on our mindset with little input or control from our end as individuals and as society. Misuse of the smart phone is becoming a menace to family ties and interpersonal relationships.
Sociologist Marx Weber (1864-1920) introduced the phrase "iron cage", referring to a society in which modern technology undermines the ideals that stir the human soul. Zygmunt Bauman, another sociologist uses the term “liquid modernity/society in which life considers highly what is transitory rather than permanent, the immediate rather than long term; and regards utility as prior to any other value.
Cardinal Robert Sarah, in his book, “The Power of Silence”, associates all these sources of fear to a widespread spiritual illness in modern culture. He relates this illness to an absence of crucially needed, God and truth-revealing periods of silence. He discusses the silence of the ears, of the eyes and of the heart, which seem to be appallingly absent in the life of modern men, women and youth.
Cardinal Sarah asserts that postmodernity is an ongoing offence and aggression against the divine silence. “In killing silence, man assassinates God.” Modern civilization is associated with full-time noise. Noise liturgy tries to prevent God himself from speaking and worshipers from concentration and contemplation. In this hell of noise, man disintegrates and is lost. Noise is a deceptive, addictive, and false tranquilizer.
Because of all the noise experienced by our eyes, ears and hearts, we are no longer able to comprehend the purpose and even the value of our own life and that of others. We are lost in a spiral of self-destroying anxieties, fears, uncouthness, confusion and violence. This accounts for the acceptance of anti-human perversities, like abortion, euthanasia, homosexuality and trans-genderism.
Everything that enters the mind and heart through the senses, emotions and memories can create hurricane-force internal “noise” and greatly disturb our internal equilibrium, sense of being and relationship with God. It is necessary to stop one’s ears, because there are sonic images that assault and violate our sense of hearing, our intellect, and our imagination. Our interior dwelling is violated by pornography, cruel violence, and all sorts of worldly obscenities that attack purity of heart.
In the brightly lit prisons of the modern world, our eyes are sick, intoxicated and can no longer close. The faculty of sight, which ought to see and contemplate the essential things, is turned aside to what is artificial. Our consciences stagger in destructive moral relativism; no longer able to recognize sin. This is a clear manifestation of a rapture between us and God, caused precisely by sin!
Cardinal Sarah further proposes a remedy he calls “the silence of the eyes”. It consists of being able to close one’s eyes in order to contemplate God who is within us. “In silence, man is absorbed by the divine and the world’s movements no longer have any hold on his soul.”
In his encyclical “The door of faith”, Pope Benedict XVI highly recommends the teaching of Mother Church, where we learn how to live a fully human life in loving freedom as God's adopted children (Genesis. 1:27).
The writer is a Catholic Priest